Cognac As you approach the town of Cognac in the Charente, the scenery changes from fields of grazing cattle to neat rows of vines, stretching as far as the eye can see. The town is famous all over the world thanks to cognac, the grape-based spirit that has been made here for the past 300 years – French writer Victor Hugo called it the ‘liquor of the gods’.

Cognac is a town full of history. King François 1 was born here in 1494. A contemporary of King Henry VIII of England he is considered France’s first Renaissance king. He gave the town the right to trade salt using the river, so creating the foundations of its commercial success that was further enhanced when it went into cognac production.

The spirit was first made as an alternative to wine as a preventive drink against scurvy – wine was difficult to transport and took up a lot of space. Double-distilled and turned into brandy (cognac) it was more compact and more stable so travelled well but also tasted better after being aged in oak casks.
Today the town of Cognac continues to revolve around the spirit, its fortunes rising and falling according to the popularity of the drink.